(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

THE  DRAMA  OF  EXPRESSIONISM                   389

in REINHARD JOHANNES SORGE'S (1892-1916) DerBettler (1912); on
a stage illuminated by searchlights the walls of a cafe recede and
the hero recites his lines against the purple night-sky; or he turns
to the spectators and harangues them. Son and father fight out
their quarrel with the lyric logic loaded against the parent in
WALTER HASENCLEVER'S (1890-1940) drama Der Sobn (1914); only
a convenient fit of apoplexy saves the father from being shot by
his son. clt is the old song against injustice and cruelty/ cries the
son; father is to son as King Philip was to Don Carlos. This
literary spirit of revolution had its share in the smashing of the old
regime; but it quickly degenerated into political Communism,

It is in the drama that the grotesque suggestiveness of expres-
sionism forces its claim to at least historical significance. Disciples
of Wedekind are Paul Kornfeld, Carl Sternheim, and Georg Kaiser.
PAUL KORNFELD (1889- ) turns away not merely from reality but
from psychology, which, he says, tells us as little as anatomy does
of the nature of man, who is 'the mirror and shadow of the eternal
and God's mouth'; reality is a mistake, the truth is raptness of soul
(Beseeltheif). Kornfeld would, therefore, banish character from the
stage and replace it by soul, i.e. the divine, or the non-human and
non-temporal; 'let us leave it to the working day', he cries, *to
have character, and let us be nothing but soul.* In harmony with
this conception, actors are not to be afraid of waving their arms
about; intensity of expression is beyond the means of traditional
acting; exaltation is to be achieved, not by physical illusion such
as the cothurnus gave the Greeks, but by illumination from within;
the soul is to shine forth in the dimness of reality like a luminous
dial in the night. Therefore, in Kornfeld's dramas (Die Verfuhrung>
1913; Himmel und Hoik, 1918) there are no characters, only souls
'making mighty speeches with mighty gestures'. CARL STERNHEIM
(1878-1942) in his comedies shows up the respectable middle
classes, to which by birth he belonged (he was a banker's son); to
him the burger is not Monsieur Homais, slippered and sleek and
harmless, but a loathsome blend of venomous toad, braying ass,
and scarecrow. In his prose treatise Tasso oder "Kmstdes Juste Milieu
(1921) he pillories Goethe himself as a petty Philistine I His most
characteristic work is to be found in a series of eleven comedies,
written 1908-22, and grouped under the ironic title Aus dem burger-
lichen Heldenleben. Typical of his comedies *of manners'  they are
as cold and sharp as a surgeon's knife - is Burger Scttppel (1913),